“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ~William Arthur Ward
There are so many times I find myself inspired by an idea. I hear about a book someone’s read, and I want to read it. I hear about a spiritual practice, and I want to try it.
Sometimes though, because other things take priority, the idea gets placed on the back burner. Like a slow simmering tea kettle, the idea will often call out to me again later, screaming for my attention.
Sometimes I follow up. I order the book. I download the meditation music. And yes, sometimes I actually end up reading that book or following the guided meditation.
These nuggets of inspiration sometimes leave a permanent mark, become a habit, or just touch me for a time.
Always, it’s a wonderful feeling.
There are times though, when ideas get put on a shelf, never to be thought of again.
I hate when that happens.
I don’t remember when I first heard of a gratitude jar, but I remember instantly loving the idea. I knew at once I wanted to include one in my life, but I never got around to it. It was a back-burner, shoved-on-a-shelf kind of thing.
But still, the idea simmered on somewhere in the back of my mind.
The problem with shelving things is they are often forgotten or shoved aside until the next big idea comes along. These sparks of interest often pile on top of one another losing their sparkle, turning dusty and dull.
Periodically the idea of a gratitude jar would resurface, reminding me of its presence. Always the spark would come again.
Yes! A gratitude jar! I wanted one!
It’s a simple thing really. You make it a ritual to write what you are most grateful for on small slips of paper. You store the brief messages in jar.
These pieces of paper may hold the little things to the big things, to the once-in-a-lifetime-never-want-to-forget-things. It could be the random act of kindness a stranger bestowed on you or it could be the moment you’ve long been praying for.
All these moments are collected as a way to honor them, as a way to remember.
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” ~Cynthia Ozick
What you do with the contents of the jar is up to you, but most people wait until the jar is full to start pulling out the treasured notes.
Maybe it’s been a long day and it feels like nothing is working in your favor. Well, the gratitude jar is there, waiting to reassure you. Take a slip at random and the memory you wrote down weeks ago is there for you to see, and the feeling of gratitude is instantly brought back to you.
If it’s been a really tough day? Well, keep taking out two, three, four pieces of paper until it finally sinks again: you have so much to be thankful for.
There are different variations to this, of course. Sometimes it’s a family activity, one that is repeated daily until once a month the jar is emptied and read together. Sometimes different colored paper signifies different categories of gratitude: people, opportunities, material things, feelings, health, to name a few.
Always though, the idea is the same. Stop. Give thanks. Reflect on it later.
I don’t know why, but last month the gratitude jar came to my mind… again! That was it! Enough was enough! I decided it was time for me to finally have a gratitude jar in my home.
I already keep lists, give thanks at least a hundred times a day, acknowledge the feeling, and other rituals as well. But I knew it would be November soon, the month of Thanksgiving—my favorite—and I thought it was time to make a gratitude jar a part of my tradition.
Of course, as is usually the case, once I decided I wanted a gratitude jar I couldn’t find one anywhere.
So finally a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I would be crafty. I would be creative. And yes, I would make my very own gratitude jar. It would be even more special that way.
I went out shopping for supplies and last week, after a particularly long day at work, I decided it was finally time to stop thinking about the gratitude jar (and talking about it) and just get it made. Thanksgiving is upon us, after all!
I laid out my materials and dove in. It felt relaxing to be taking part in a soul-filling activity.
I have to say I love how it turned out!
I hope the gratitude jar serves as a reminder to stop and physically give thanks in a tangible way. I hope the little slips of paper I fill out now will someday make me laugh, make me smile, or just make me remember how much I have to be thankful for.
I hope that together the mini-messages tell a complete story—the kind that has vivid details and heartwarming memories I don’t want to ever forget.
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” ~Anthony Robbins
We can’t pursue every idea that comes our way. But in the process of prioritizing we often push too many of these bright spots aside.
These sparks are calling for our attention for a reason. They are often the very thing our soul needs to be recharged or ignited. But because it may not fit our traditional to-do’s, we ignore these calls for inspiration.
There are times when ideas get put on a shelf, never to be thought of again.
But sometimes, they get placed ever so thoughtfully in a jar, to always be remembered.
I have a feeling the jar will be filled in no time.
I hope that everyone has a very happy, healthy and blessed Thanksgiving.